Anne Michaels, an accomplished poet, has already published two collections of poetry in her native Canada. She turns her hand to fiction in an impressive debut novel, Fugitive Pieces
. This is the story of Jakob Beer, a Polish Jew, translator, and poet who, as a child, witnessed his family's slaughter at the hands of the Nazis. Beer himself was found and smuggled out of Poland by Athos Roussos, a Greek archaeologist who carried him back to Greece and kept him there in precarious safety. After the war they emigrated together to Canada. Jakob's story is told through diaries discovered by Ben, a young man whose parents are Holocaust survivors and who is a vessel for their memories just as Jakob is the bearer of his own.
Fugitive Pieces is a book about memory and forgetting. How is it possible to love the living when our hearts are still with the dead? What is the difference between what historical fact tells us and what we remember? More than that, the novel is a meditation on the power of language to free our souls and allow us to find our own destinies.
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'Monumental Fugitive Pieces is the most important book I have read for forty years' John Berger, Observer 'This is a novel to lose yourself in; let the language pour over you, depositing its richness like waves lapping sand onto a beach. Michaels is a novelist of unusual and compelling power' Erica Wagner, The Times 'Essential reading, both for its exceptional literary craft and for its exemplary and inspiring humanity' Spectator 'All except a handful of contemporary novels are dwarfed by its reach, its compassion, its wisdom A book to read many times' Geoff Dyer, Independent